Language School, FOIX

Sunday May 17, Geoff and I separated (temporarily) and he headed off to Montpellier to join his bike tour and I caught a couple of trains to Foix, to the Valorme Language School which is located in Rue de Chapeliers, right beside L’Eglise Saint-Volusien. Foix is a little medieval town, one hour from Toulouse, in the foothills of the Pyrenees. It is situated on the Ariege River, flanked by steep, forested escarpments and, beyond them, the Pyrenees and Andorra and Spain. It is a very popular destination for hikers and hang gliders.  
We had language classes from 9 – 12 and we then lunched at one of the many local restaurants and went out somewhere in the afternoon so there was no let-up – only French spoken for the whole day. Funnily enough, in the evenings when we had free time, apart from homework, we still tended to converse in French. There were three other students – another two women from Melbourne (what are the odds!) and a man who is in the United States Army. It was a lot of fun and we all made good progress. Our afternoon excursions included an especially arranged visit to the Chateau de Fiches which I loved. The chateau is ancient but the first records date from the 15th century. It is famous for two reasons, one of which is the extraordinary collection of mostly wild plants from the region, gathered, preserved and catalogued by the naturalist, Jean Joseph Adrien Fauree de Fiches. Re-cataloguing the collection, using modern methods, has been a major enterprise. The 200- yr-old specimens still retain brilliant colours thanks to the perfect storage environment of dark cupboards within the thick walls of the chateau. The chateau’s second claim to fame is the Bestiere which dates from the 17th century. This is the name given to the paintings of animals and birds which decorate the ceiling of the main reception room. More paintings are being discovered as other rooms have false walls and ceilings removed.   

Chateau de Fiches


Bestiere at Chateau de Fiches


Snow-capped mountains seen from Vals


Graves in French cemetries are often decorated with china flower arrangements


Ancient wood carvings in Mirepoix

 We also visited the ancient market town of Mirepoix and the Eglise Semi-Rupestre et Site Archeologique de Vals. The latter is a remarkable church, built over centuries, incorporating two mighty rocks into its foundations. From the window of my small apartment I had a wonderful view of the Chateau de Foix and I measured my day by the great chiming clock of the cathedral. It was a terrific experience.


1 thought on “Language School, FOIX

  1. Rex

    Just having a bit of time to get back and comment on the wonderful blogs and experiences you are having. Interesting that Mirepoix is also a term used in French cooking (a mix of chopped veg like carrots, onions and celery as a base for cooking) a bit like soffrito in Italian cooking. That church is the original rock of faith. – Rex (Brian P).



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